Wondering what to see and do in India in November? November is an excellent month to visit India. The weather is starting becoming cooler and dryer, and the full moon at this time of year -- in the Hindu month of Kartika -- is considered to be particularly auspicious. You'll find fairs and religious celebrations happening all over the country. Here's the best of what's on in November in India (listed by date).
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This festival, celebrated at an ancient and secluded snake temple in Kerala, is sure to leave an impression. The unusual temple is a pilgrimage center for devotees of serpent gods and has Brahmin woman chief priestess. The temple's multitude of snake idols are taken out in grand procession to the Brahmin ancestral home, where special prayers and offerings are made.
- When: November 1, 2018.
- Where: Mannarasala Sree Nagaraja temple, Harippad, Alleppey district, Kerala.
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Organized by Nada Yoga School every year since 2008, the International Yoga and Music Festival features 50 of the best professional yoga teachers, Ayurvedic doctors, nad yogis, yoga lecturers, musicians, and philosophers from Rishikesh and abroad. Free classes and lectures are held with topics including yoga asanas, shatkarma, Ayurveda, philosophy, and Indian classical music. There's an Indian classical music concert in the evenings as well.
- When: November 1-7, 2018.
- Where: Rishikesh, Uttarakhand.
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This festival showcases the Kutch region's culture and heritage, although it's become rather commercial and overcrowded. The days are filled with folk dances and music, adventure sports, handicrafts, food stalls, and excursions to surrounding destinations. Hundreds of luxury tents are set up on the fringe of the white salt desert to accommodate visitors. Gujarat Tourism offers package tours.
- When: November 1, 2018-February 20, 2019. It's best on full moon nights to see the moon shining on the salt. (November 23, December 22, January 21 and February 19).
- Where: Great Rann of Kutch salt desert, Dhordo, Gujarat.
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Diwali, the biggest festival in India, honors the victory of good over evil and brightness over darkness. It celebrates Lord Rama and his wife Sita returning to their kingdom of Ayodhya, following Rama and monkey god Hanuman's defeat the demon King Ravana and rescue of Sita from his evil clutches (on Dussehra). Lots of small clay lamps (called diyas) and candles are lit and placed in houses, and fireworks are let off everywhere, giving Diwali its name as "Festival of Lights".
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- When: November 7, 2018.
- Where: Throughout India, except in the southern state of Kerala.
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Also know as the 100 Drum Wangala Festival, this is the biggest harvest festival of Meghalaya's Garo tribe in northeast India. Held in honor of the Sun God of fertility, the festival marks the end of the sowing season and agricultural year. It's celebrated by the beating of drums, blowing horns, and traditional dancing. Festival highlights include a traditional dance competition among Wangala troupes from the Garo Hills, slow-cooking competition, indigenous games, and handloom and handicrafts exhibition.
- When: Second week of November every year.
- Where: Garo Hills, Meghalaya.
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This north Indian festival, traditionally celebrated by the people of Bihar, is devoted to worshiping the sun. People flock to the water's edge to offer prayers to the Sun God at sunset. Hymns and folk songs are sung, and women fast and pray for the well being of their family and friends.
- When: November 13, 2018. (Chhath Sandhya Argh evening prayers).
- Where: Across India, particularly in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, Assam, and West Bengal. The banks of the Ganges River in Varanasi are another excellent tourist place to see it. A Chhath Puja also takes place on Juhu Beach in Mumbai.
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Pushkar Camel Fair
This increasingly famous festival sees an astonishing 30,000 camels converge on the tiny desert town of Pushkar. The camels are dressed up, shaved, entered into beauty contests, paraded, raced, and traded. An entertaining sight indeed! Do arrive a couple of days before the official starting date to catch the most camel trading action.
- When: November 15-23, 2018.
- Where: Pushkar, Rajasthan.
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The International Hot Air Ballooning Festival is an added attraction at the Pushkar Camel Fair. Similar to the Taj Balloon Festival in Agra, it's hosted by Sky Waltz, and features hot air balloons from around the world and a Night Glow Music Concert. Accommodation and balloon flight packages are offered for visitors.
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- When: During the Pushkar Camel Fair.
- Where: Pushkar, Rajasthan.
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Suitable for both couples and singles, this festival has a line up of renowned international Tantra teachers and healers. It consists of different Tantra and Biodanza workshops every day, a healing temple, live traditional music from Baul musicians, DJs and dance parties, Osho active meditations, Love Lounge, and sacred ceremonies. The theme this year is "Divine Archetypes", and there will be daily special meditations and transmissions to anchor them to the body.
- When: November 19-24, 2018. This is followed by an optional two day Living Tantra experience of co-habitating in a Tantric community.
- Where: Zorba the Buddha Center, Delhi.
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Ganga Mahotsav and Dev Deepavali
Held along the banks of the holy Ganges River, the Ganga Mahotsav features cultural programs of classical music and dance. A 10-day national craft fair is also organized. The highlight of the festival is on the last day, when more than a million clay lamps are floated down the river at dusk amidst chanting of Vedic hymns as part of Dev Deepavali on Kartik Purnima.
- When: November 20-23, 2018.
- Where: Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh.
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Kolayat Fair (Kapil Muni Fair)
The largest fair of Bikaner district, in India's desert state of Rajasthan, the Kolayat Fair combines a huge cattle fair with a pilgrimage to the town's holy lake. It's quite a spectacle as buffaloes, camels, horses and cattle are traded, and pilgrims bathe and float clay lanterns in the lake.
- When: November 21-23, 2018.
- Where: Kolayat, near Bikaner, Rajasthan.
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Cattle market meets mass bathing ceremony at this regional equivalent of the Pushkar Fair. The Chandrabhaga River is holy to Hindus and it attracts many pilgrims who come to take a bath on the occasion of Kartik Purnima. The fair is also quite a big one, with buffaloes, camels, cows, bullocks and horses on sale. Rajasthan Tourism organizes cultural events as well.
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- When: November 22-24, 2018.
- Where: Jhalawar, Rajasthan.
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This modern and contemporary art fair aims to provide a cultural bridge between Indian artists, art galleries, art collectors and connoisseurs. The artworks on display will include paintings, sculptures, drawings, installations, photographs, and video and digital art by over 400 artists. Seascapes, landscapes, rural and urban scenarios, and abstracts will all be featured. Entry is free, and various workshops and panel discussions will also take place.
- When: November 22-25, 2018.
- Where: Thyagaraj Stadium, Delhi.
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Guru Nanak Jayanti
Guru Nanak Jayanti is a commemoration of Guru Nanak's birthday (he was the founder of the Sikh religion), and is widely celebrated throughout Punjab but especially so at the Golden Temple in Amritsar, the main shrine of the Sikhs. On the eve of the festival, Amritsar comes alive with a huge procession, accompanied by singers and musicians. Part of it features a demonstration of Sikh martial arts. The beautifully illuminated temple is an incredible sight to behold at this time.
- When: November 23, 2018.
- Where: Amritsar, Punjab.
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The Bali Jatra (voyage to Bali) festival commemorates the ancient era of maritime exploration and trade in Odisha, which saw merchants reach as far as Bali in the 2nd century BC. When the northeast monsoon wind shifted direction around Kartik Purnima, the merchants would set sail for Indonesia. Nowadays, families place paper boats with oil lamps in the water at sunrise and watch them sail away.
- When: November 23-30, 2018.
- Where: Cuttack, Odisha.
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This vibrant rural fair combines spirituality, sexuality, and animal trading. Street magicians, religious gurus and tantriks, pilgrims, snack stalls, handicrafts, amusement rides, circus performers, and dancing girls all create a carnival like no other. The main event takes place at the intersection of the Ganges and Gandak rivers, when masses of pilgrims bathe at sunrise on Kartik Purnima.
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- When: For a month, starting November 23, 2018. (Make sure you arrive by November 22 so you can see the devotees bathing on November 23, which is Kartik Purima).
- Where: Sonepur, around 25 kilometers from Patna, Bihar.
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The Matsya Festival, albeit little-known, showcases Rajasthani culture and heritage at its best. Attractions include exhibitions, competitions, sports, processions, folk music, and a heritage walk. The festival gets its name from the fact that Alwar was once part of the ancient Matsya Desh (Land of Fishes) kingdom during the time of The Mahabharata.
- When: November 25-26, 2018.
- Where: Alwar, Rajasthan.
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Bundi is a picturesque spot in the Hadoti region in Rajasthan. The Bundi Utsav brings it alive with the culture, folklore, traditions and craft of the region. The festival commences with a procession, and features an arts and crafts fair, traditional rural sports, cultural exhibition, and folk/classical music and dance program. There's even a turban competition. Fireworks cap off the festival.
- When: November 26-28, 2018.
- Where: Bundi, Rajasthan.
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Fancy a peaceful bird's-eye view of the Taj Mahal, away from the crowds? Don't miss the first Taj Balloon Festival, hosted by Sky Waltz (the premier hot air ballooning company in India) in conjunction with Uttar Pradesh Tourism. Hot air balloonists from 15 countries around the world will grace the skies. In the evening, enjoy live music performances under the warm glow of the hot air balloons. Luxury package tours, including balloon flights, are available.
- When: To be announced for 2018.
- Where: Agra, Uttar Pradesh.
- Hot Air Balloon Flights in India: What You Need to Know
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This long-running annual cultural festival takes place at one of India's top tourist destinations. It features a program of dance, drama and music. In addition, a Hampi by Night heritage walk will be launched during the festival. Other attractions include a sound and light show, helicopter rides, adventure and water sports, rural sports, and a food market.
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- When: To be announced for 2018.
- Where: Hampi, Karnataka.
- Essential Travel Guide for Visiting Hampi
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This year's Delhi Walk Festival offers 170 diverse walks spread over two weeks. The walks are divided into different categories with the following themes: culture and heritage; food; music and art; photography and design; nature; and alternative/experimental. There's something from everyone, including a blindfolded walk at Khan Market and a Game of Thrones at the Old Fort. Book your tickets early so you don't miss out. Photography is a big focus and there's an Instagram contest as well. So, get clicking!
- When: To be announced for 2018.
- Where: Various locations in Delhi.
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India has joined Washington D.C. in the USA, and Japan, in having a cherry blossom festival. It's back for the second year this year and features a wide range of events, as well as the beautiful cherry blossoms of course. These include guided night walks, live music, folk and tribal dance performances, storytelling sessions, and stalls showcasing local wine and crafts. All events are free!